Is there anything you can’t learn from TV?

Entertainment, Writing

At the risk of sounding like I’m obsessed with this show, here is another post on Ugly Betty, starting with some random oil paintings created by Betty’s on-screen boyfriend while they were broken up, which appeared in a fourth-season episode (they were later auctioned off IRL to raise funds for Save the Children).

You can see the rest here. I think you have to remember that they were created by a heartbroken ex, otherwise they’re kind of offensive.


The series finale aired this past Wednesday, and I have to admit I got very emotional. I don’t even watch the show regularly, but when I do, I can’t help but relate to Betty’s character – from not being conventionally pretty to trying to make it as a writer. But the final few episodes really hit close to home with Betty trying to decide between risking it all to move to London for a job that she feels is right for her and staying put in New York and playing it safe.

At one point, she worried about leaving her father alone (since her sister was also planning to move away at the same time), and she asked if it was selfish of her to leave. She got quite a bit of grief from her father who tried to convince her to stay, and I could understand her guilt for leaving him alone. She also felt like she was being naive or foolhardy for leaving a reliable job at a magazine that was estalished, where she had spent 4 years working her way up, to pursue a more interesting position at a magazine in London that was just starting.

Ultimately, though, she got her happy ending (as so often happens in TV shows). She took the riskier option, and left everything to pursue her dreams. The montage at the end of the episode shows her adapting to London life, working hard, making friends and generally being pretty happy with her decision. I think there’s a pretty clear message there. Oh, and by the end, her father gives her his blessing to go. Awww… (That was partly sarcastic.)

Sometimes when I find myself pulling meaning, guidance or relatability from entertainment – like I am right now – I feel silly for a moment. And then I realize that stories exist for a reason. Besides entertaining us, they offer truth, often universal, and almost always simultaneously mirroring and influencing our lives. Yes, even silly TV shows that are often guilty of being oversimplified and somewhat unrealistic have something to offer, depending on what you’re looking for.

And then, when I think of my silly dreams to be a writer and I worry that not only is it unattainable, but that it often feels simply unimportant, I think about how much TV shows, books and movies have made my life better, and then it doesn’t feel so silly.

6 thoughts on “Is there anything you can’t learn from TV?

  1. Why do you find the paintings (potentially) offensive? I think the last one is pretty. The first one is just weird, and the one with the mouths is… I dunno, it’s okay.

    Anyway, as always, I encourage you to pursue your dreams. As I like to quote, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

  2. Not all of them. But I would be offended if someone painted me as Medusa. Although she was pretty badass…

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